How to Prepare for Pentecost

Jack Levison:

How do we prep for something as important as Pentecost?

First, we take care of business that might get between us and the work of the Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus’ earliest followers did. When Jesus left, an angel barked, “Why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?” “So they left the mountain,” the story says, “and returned to Jerusalem,” to “the upper room they had been using as a meeting place.” When they got there, they figured out a way to replace Judas, who had betrayed Jesus and committed suicide.

We can prepare for Pentecost by doing work that needs to be done. Preparation ispractical.

Second, we pray—with other people, if we can. That’s what Jesus’ earliest followers did. When they got to that upper room in Jerusalem, they prayed. Not happenstance prayers. Not occasional requests. The Greek is forceful here: “They devoted themselves all together in prayer.” That’s why Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates the Greek like this: “they agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer.”

We can prepare for Pentecost by praying hard and, when we can, together. Preparation is spiritual.

Third, we get over our petty hangups about who can do what in the church. There was a state of emergency in the early church. Jesus was gone! It was no time for propriety, no time to decide whether women could pray or not, whether women could preach. Of course they could. They did! So the line about prayer continues: “they agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included.” Men and women, praying women and men, went on to receive the Spirit and preach in different languages on the day of Pentecost.

We can prepare for Pentecost by realizing there is a state of emergency in our world—our churches, too—so we can’t stall over the usual issues that dog us. Preparation is urgent.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.